Psychological Wellbeing of the Bedridden Alzheimer's Patient
When we are caregivers to bedridden people with Alzheimer’s it is often their physical needs that take priority. Preventing bed sores, urinary tract and respiratory infections, coping with incontinence, constipation, trying to cope with a poor dietary intake. Such things often leaves little time to think about other equally important things - their psychological and emotional wellbeing.
These caregiver tips can help reduce the incidence of stress, anxiety, depression and unhappiness. The stage of Alzheimer’s the person is experiencing does affect what activities they can take part in. It is also important to consider how a coexisting long term disability may affect your plans.
- Making the Day Varied and Interesting
Making their day as interesting and varied as possible can improve their feeling of wellbeing.
- Bringing Enjoyment into their Lives
Focus on what they can still enjoy. Small activities should still continue. Talk to them, show them pictures/photos they used to enjoy, play music etc. Try to continue activities they used to enjoy when they were well and mentally fit. The activity often taps into previous memories and routines. Try to get them out. Getting a little fresh air and feeling the sun on their skin can be very therapeutic.
- Change Events but Not their Routine
Overall, routine is very important for people with Alzheimer’s.
- **Change of Environment, Posture, Sitting Out of Be **
If possible try to change their environment for a short time. Less is more, especially when someone spends a lot of time in bed. An hour or two, even 15 minutes every day, can give a sense of achievement. There is equipment you can be taught to use that can help even the most severely disabled person into a chair. The benefits of movement are profound as it gives some relief to pressure areas, especially the back, the shoulder blades, back of the head, hips etc. Supportive recliner chairs help prevent skin sores, chest infections, and it can make eating and drinking easier.
- Exercise, Movements as Activity/Pain Relief/Interaction with Others When someone is bedridden they still need to get some exercise to keep muscles working (even minimally). Exercise also reduces the possibility of contracture.
Caregivers can use passive movement as an activity that gives them special time together for communication. Passive movement is about moving a joint without participation or effort on the part of the subject. Here is a link to more information on the benefits of passive movement.
Massage is a great activity and its good for you both. It is soothing and Zen-like in promoting tranquillity and feeling of wellbeing and is great for pain relief too. Massage arms, hands, legs with oil/moisturizer. Massage improves skin tone and prevent dryness and irritation.
Touch is an important sense. Stroking and hair brushing can be very reassuring and lets the person know there is someone who cares for them and is looking after their needs.
Freedom from Pain/Discomfort/Stress
Freedom from pain and discomfort is essential to psychological wellbeing. It is important to have advice to evaluate degree of pain and discomfort in their day. Medications are available to help reduce them.
Here is a link to a sharepost on Assessing pain in late stage Alzheimer’s
A Room with a View
Put their bed by the window so they can see out. Remember to protect them from sun-glare, heat or cold as the sun moves around during the day and evening.
Christine Kennard wrote about Alzheimer’s for HealthCentral. She has many years of experience in private and public sector nursing care homes for people with dementia. She has worked in a variety of hospital, public and private health settings and specialized in community nursing. Christine is qualified in group analytic psychotherapy, is registered in general and mental health nursing and has a Masters degree.